Client

Algerian Ministry of Religion

Background

Following a powerful earthquake in 1790 that destroyed a large part of Oran, the Spanish abandoned the city, and Bey Mohamed El Kébir entered, ending almost three centuries of Spanish presence. El Kébir made Oran the capital of the Western Beylik and undertook its reconstruction, including construction of the El Pacha Mosque in 1796. The mosque is square in plan with a perfect seven-by-seven bay configuration and a mihrab in the center of the east wall. A large, centered dome is defined by the middle three bays with twelve surrounding minor domes. The structure features local stone, clay brick, lime mortars and stuccoes, and local wood materials.

Solution

The WJE investigation was performed in conjunction with a local architect, Hachemi Bourayou, in order to develop approaches to stabilize the structure. The investigation was visual and nonintrusive and included archival research at local libraries and museums. The investigation found cracks in the terrazzo floor and ceiling vault, seam separation in the roofing membrane, and decaying stone work. Of greater concern was the bowing in the wall and foundation, which over time, would cause the structure to collapse. Guidelines were established for stabilization of the structure and restoration of the mosque. Further recommended investigative work included the following:

-Inspection openings to determine the relation of the interior columns to the foundation walls
-Develop a monitoring plan for movement of the building cracks
-Perform a geotechnical survey of the soils
-Study of the earthquake resistance of the mosque structure